EDITORIAL: SGA’s bylaws must change to demand transparency from it’s members

Given the current composition of SGA’s infrastructure, there is much room for conflict of interest in the handling of tuition money utilized for the funding granted to EC’s student organizations. As such, we believe that SGA should generate laws influencing their executive members’ integrity. 

SGA’s Vice President, Maria Anguiano, is currently facing harsh accusations of a conflict of interest following recent allegations in violating SGA’s funding bylaws. 

The onslaught of accusations was sparked by Anguiano’s role in privately proposing funding for an outside student organization, Hablamos, in which she holds a position as president. 

In the past,  it has been acknowledged that executive members have held distinct executive roles outside of our student government. Yet they are unquestionably given leeway to surface proposals representing the interests of the student organizations they lead. 

The nature of this situation is entirely ridiculous and calls for deliberation.

While individual members of our student government are not to blame for this mishandling of funds, SGA’s constitution is void of any restrictions that give room for these conflicts of interests. 

Given this insight, it is truly concerning that our student government operates under such leniency, especially given that they control the purse strings.

Of the 3,000 individuals that comprise the student body, only a handful of students have the ultimate say in where our tuition dollars are allocated.

The nature of our student government is wholly unrepresentative and leaves much room for biased motives. 

While we believe the magnitude of this problem necessitates a total dissolvement and restructuring of our student government, it is perhaps more practical to start by imposing restrictions on executive members of SGA from taking upon additional executive roles in outside student organizations.

As a student-run newspaper, our ability to effectively inform the student body relies on the unbiased role of our editorial board in which our editor-in-chief is restricted from functioning in separate executive positions within other student organizations. 

Furthermore, the individual members of the editorial board and staff are banned from writing articles and columns regarding student organization in which they are a part of.

We expect the same code of conduct from SGA, a student-run government that should ultimately function as an unbiased arbiter of what is necessary for the student body.

The approval of Hablamos’ funding, was a decision made through a private email in which the executive members of SGA deliberated and discussed the granting of $150 dollars. And while we acknowledge that this small amount of money may seem insignificant, the entire ordeal raises some concerning questions. 

When were non-executive members of SGA part of this discussion? Why was the student body entirely unaware of such a decision? And most importantly, how long has this been going on?

We suspect that similar instances have happened without question. Where it not for the vocalized concerns of a member of SGA, we would not be holding this discussion to begin with and SGA members would have continued this behavior.

SGA has invited the collective student body to take part in discussions every Thursday in the Blume Board room, and that is precisely the environment in which discussions surrounding funding should be surfaced. They should be in an environment in which everyone has free reign to assert their opinions.

We believe that steps need to be taken to vocalize and advertise these discussions as there is the impression that SGA meetings are entirely exclusive to SGA members throughout the entirety of the student body. 

EC is notorious for the lackluster participation of the collective student body in such matters which is perhaps why these conflicts of interests have existed for so long. 

Still, the lack of student involvement simply rests on what is being done to tackle the issue of student apathy. More students need to be informed about these meetings and that requires a whole set of effort beyond a mere Facebook post or a poster pinned to a bulletin board.

But whether SGA forums are held in a packed auditorium or a nearly empty Blume Boardroom, the executive members should maintain the same level of integrity throughout.